Concentration Camp Site in Serbia Capital of Belgrade Eyed for Balkans Megamall

Warehouse District Was Stop on Death Road for Jews

Place of Grief: A woman mourns at the site of a Nazi concentration camp in Belgrade.
historical archive of belgrade
Place of Grief: A woman mourns at the site of a Nazi concentration camp in Belgrade.

By Reuters

Published August 15, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

Lucija Rajner last saw her father, Vladislav, on Nov. 14, 1941, through a barbed-wire fence at a concentration camp in Belgrade.

That autumn, Rajner and her mother passed food, letters and bedding to him, until a guard told them he wouldn’t need such supplies anymore. Rajner never learned his fate, but assumes he died the same way as 6,000 other Jews and 1,500 Roma who passed through the camp - gunned down or gassed en masse.

The cluster of warehouses that formed the camp known as Topovske Supe still stands; rubbish litters the floors and graffiti scars the walls.

A small plaque is all that marks the location’s dark history. It was screwed to a crumbling brick wall in 2006, when most of the land had already been sold for 27 million euros ($35 million) to a retail tycoon who plans to spend 160 million euros to turn it into the biggest shopping mall in the Balkans.

Rajner and a small group of historians and activists say the destruction of Topovske Supe is emblematic of how far Serbia still has to go in recognising the Holocaust on its soil.

“I don’t know why the state shows this kind of disrespect to things which should not be forgotten,” said 79-year-old Rajner.

In a region dotted with memorials to Partisan battle victories, the 70,000 Jews who died in Yugoslavia during World War Two were subsumed into the narrative of Yugoslav victims of fascism, part of the doctrine of ‘Brotherhood and Unity’ propagated by Josip Broz Tito to diminish national and ethnic differences within the federation he ruled from 1945 to 1980.

After Estonia, Serbia was the second Nazi-occupied territory in Europe to be formally declared ‘free of Jews’ in August 1942, when 90 percent of the country’s 16,000 Jews had perished.

With Tito’s death, unity gave way to the virulent nationalism that would eventually tear Yugoslavia apart, and Serbia began stressing the suffering of Serbs at the hands of Nazi puppet rulers in Croatia.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • “Twist and Shout.” “Under the Boardwalk.” “Brown-Eyed Girl.” What do these great songs have in common? A forgotten Jewish songwriter. We tracked him down.
  • What can we learn from tragedies like the rampage in suburban Kansas City? For one thing, we must keep our eyes on the real threats that we as Jews face.
  • When is a legume not necessarily a legume? Philologos has the answer.
  • "Sometime in my childhood, I realized that the Exodus wasn’t as remote or as faceless as I thought it was, because I knew a former slave. His name was Hersh Nemes, and he was my grandfather." Share this moving Passover essay!
  • Getting ready for Seder? Chag Sameach! http://jd.fo/q3LO2
  • "We are not so far removed from the tragedies of the past, and as Jews sit down to the Seder meal, this event is a teachable moment of how the hatred of Jews-as-Other is still alive and well. It is not realistic to be complacent."
  • Aperitif Cocktail, Tequila Shot, Tom Collins or Vodka Soda — Which son do you relate to?
  • Elvis craved bacon on tour. Michael Jackson craved matzo ball soup. We've got the recipe.
  • This is the face of hatred.
  • What could be wrong with a bunch of guys kicking back with a steak and a couple of beers and talking about the Seder? Try everything. #ManSeder
  • BREAKING: Smirking killer singled out Jews for death in suburban Kansas City rampage. 3 die in bloody rampage at JCC and retirement home.
  • Real exodus? For Mimi Minsky, it's screaming kids and demanding hubby on way down to Miami, not matzo in the desert.
  • The real heroines of Passover prep aren't even Jewish. But the holiday couldn't happen without them.
  • Is Handel’s ‘Messiah’ an anti-Semitic screed?
  • Meet the Master of the Matzo Ball.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.